When I was a kid, I couldn’t watch a lot of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. I’ve never been able to take much horror, but back then it was even worse. Every once in awhile I’d muster up the courage to watch an episode, and to this day I can tell you the names of the few that I actually sat through. The episode that put the nail in the coffin for me was “Tale of the Dollmaker” (I still find it to be the creepiest of the series). Halfway through, I changed the channel and remember thinking that I was done with Are You Afraid of the Dark? for good. From there on out I would continue to change the channel whenever the show was about to come on. But that fear of “Dollmaker” planted a seed. A fascination of the eerie and bizarre. One that has kept me intrigued by the series since that very day, knowing very well that eventually I would come back to it. Now is that time.
And I have to say that I now love the show. Mostly because the episodes can be scary, but just the right amount. It’s still a show for kids, but also doesn’t pull any punches.
At the center of it all is the Midnight Society. Kids who meet each week and tell scary stories around a campfire. Each storyteller, for the most part, has his or her own style (though slightly less so in the revival seasons). And certain storytellers are given better stories than others.
Here, I’ll be ranking each Midnight Society member by how good their stories are over the course of their run on the show. Obviously I know that the characters themselves didn’t come up with the stories, but it’s still fun to imagine that they sat at home writing them and that their talents are showcased through their storytelling.
Upon watching the series from start to finish, I gave each episode a rating from 1 to 10, not taking into account the Midnight Society segments–just the stories themselves. The ratings took into account scariness, overall pacing, poignancy, and entertainment value. Good acting was a plus, but usually didn’t sway an episode too much either way. I then averaged all the scores for each storyteller, coming up with their own individual score. Most of the stories I rated fairly high, since a majority of them are good in my opinion. But there are still quite a few clunkers.
Not included on this list are Eric and Stig because they each had only two stories. Stig would’ve actually been at the top of this list, since I gave both of his stories a 9. While Eric got a 7 (“Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun”) and a 9 (“Tale of the Dark Music”).
Also, “Tale of the Silver Sight” is a near-perfect episode, but it’s technically not attributed to any storyteller, so it won’t be included. “Tale of Cutter’s Treasure” will be attributed to both Frank and Gary, and seen as two separate episodes since they were each so different from each other.
While the series revival seasons (6 and 7) get a bad rap, I include them here because I personally feel that they stand up well against the former seasons–and are even better than one or two of the originals.
So without further ado, here is my ranking of (just about) every storyteller on Are You Afraid of the Dark?:
Average Score: 6.25
Sorry Andy, you’re a good guy. Andy only had one truly bad episode, but it was also one of the worst in the entire show’s run. He also never has an episode higher than an 8.
Tale of the Last Dance (8)
Tale of the Misfortune Cookie (3)
Tale of the Hunted (7)
Tale of the Photo Finish (7)
Average Score: 6.75
Unfortunately, Quinn hit us with some of the worst stories of the revival series. Although Tale of Vampire Town is one of the better episodes from those seasons.
Tale of Vampire Town (9)
Tale of the Reanimator (5)
Tale of the Wisdom Glass (7)
Tale of Highway 13 (6)
Average Score: 7
Tucker’s stories often feature creatures of folklore, and pertain to a sibling dynamic. Because he’s in both incarnations of the series, Tucker has a lot of episodes. I included both original and revival stories for his score. But just for fun, his score for the original series is a 6.71, while his revival stories average to a 7.33. He has some of the better tales in the latter (including the only Perfect 10 besides “Tale of the Silver Sight”), but some of the worst in the original series.
Tale of the Forever Game (10)
Best Story (original series):
Tale of Prisoners Past (9)
Tale of the Laser Maze (3)
Worst Story (original series):
Tale of the Manaha (5)
Tale of Oblivion (9)
Tale of Bigfoot Ridge (9)
Tale of the Phone Police (8)
Tale of the Midnight Ride (7)
Tale of the Time Trap (7)
Tale of the Fire Ghost (7)
Tale of Jake the Snake (6)
Tale of the Water Demons (6)
Tale of the Guardian’s Curse (5)
9. Betty Ann
Average Score: 7.33
Okay don’t be mad. It’s just that Betty Ann has a TON of stories, so her average suffers. Before starting this, I suspected her to be at the top of the list. She’s one of the more famous storytellers because of the iconic tales she tells, but a majority of them are either in the middle of the pack or forgettable. Though she still has some of the best in the series. Betty Ann’s stories often feature characters crossing realms or being dragged into another world.
Tale of the Dollmaker (10)
Tale of the Chameleons (5)
Tale of Laughing in the Dark (10)
Tale of the Mystical Mirror (8)
Tale of the Bookish Babysitter (7)
Tale of the Ghastly Grinner (7)
Tale of the Silent Servant (7)
Tale of the Whispering Walls (7)
Tale of the Curious Camera (7)
Tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (7)
Tale of the Thirteenth Floor (7)
Tale of the Nightly Neighbors (6)
Average Score: 7.5
Albeit a small sample size, Vange’s two best stories are at the top of the episodes for the revival series. But she also has one of the worst in the entire series.
Tale of the Zombie Dice (9)
Tale of the Virtual Pets (5)
Tale of the Night Nurse (9)
Tale of Many Faces (7)
Average Score: 7.8
Kiki is the only storyteller with three 10’s on her resume, but she also has a few of the worst episodes of the original series. There doesn’t seem to be much middle-ground with her. Kiki’s stories lean towards characters suffering consequences of carelessness or deceitfulness.
Tale of the Quiet Librarian (10)
Tale of the Unexpected Visitors (4)
Tale of Apartment 214 (10)
Tale of the Quicksilver (10)
Tale of the Vacant Lot (9)
Tale of the Dream Machine (9)
Tale of the Closet Keepers (8)
Tale of Old Man Corcoran (7)
Tale of the Jagged Sign (6)
Tale of the Captured Souls (5)
Average Score: 7.82
As the leader of the Midnight Society, Gary gives us the recurring character, Sardot–for better or worse. Of his ten tales, only a few of them are really good, while most of the others hover in the “average” range. His father owns a magic shop, so he’s obsessed with magic, which most of his stories revolve around.
Tale of the Unfinished Painting (10)
Tale of a Door Unlocked (5)
Tale of the Magician’s Assistant (10)
Tale of Cutter’s Treasure, Part 1 (9)
Tale of Cutter’s Treasure, Part 2 (8)
Tale of the Renegade Virus (8)
Tale of the Carved Stone (8)
Tale of the Pinball Wizard (7)
Tale of the Super Specs (7)
Tale of Badge (7)
Tale of the Crimson Clown (7)
Average Score: 8
Kristen’s episode ratings are all over the spectrum, but even her worst episodes are memorable at the very least. Her tales are almost always about ghosts with unfinished business.
Tale of Locker 22 (10)
Tale of the Final Wish (6)
Tale of the Prom Queen (9)
Tale of the Frozen Ghost (8)
Tale of the Hungry Hounds (7)
Average Score: 8.2
Played by the mediocrely famous Elisha Cuthbert, Megan has some really solid stories–along with one of the most memorable of the entire show’s run–and proves to be the best storyteller in the revival series.
Tale of the Gruesome Gourmets (9)
Tale of the Walking Shadow (7)
Tale of the Secret Admirer (9)
Tale of the Stone Maiden (8)
Tale of the Lunar Locusts (8)
Average Score: 8.4
David left the show all-too-early. Although he’s the only member without any Perfect 10s from the original series, he has some of the most memorable stories of the first two seasons, and none that were bad. It would’ve been great to see what else he came up with if he stuck around.
Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle (9)
Tale of the Twisted Claw (7)
Tale of the Lonely Ghost (9)
Tale of the Dark Dragon (9)
Tale of the Hatching (8)
Average Score: 8.43
Frank gives us some real heavy-hitters. Most of his stories revolve around his character, Dr. Vink, but the two that don’t feature the mercurial madman are really great as well (“Tale of Train Magic” and “Tale of the Full Moon”). It’s odd that in four seasons, we only get seven stories total before Frank meets the same fate as everyone else who leaves the group–his family moves away.
Tale of the Midnight Madness (10)
Tale of the Dangerous Soup (7)
Tale of Train Magic (9)
Tale of Cutter’s Treasure, Part 1 (9)
Tale of Cutter’s Treasure, Part 2 (8)
Tale of the Phantom Cab (8)
Tale of the Full Moon (8)
Average Score: 8.83
Surprised by this one? Sam just doesn’t have any bad episodes, which is rewarded here. Her worst episode still gets an 8–although it may have been lower if it weren’t for Will Friedle’s fantastic performance. Her tales usually revolve around love lasting beyond the grave. Her stories aren’t usually scary in the typical sense, but more poignant, proving that you can accomplish both. Even though she was on the show for three seasons, she inexplicably only told six stories. But what an amazing resume!
Tale of the Dream Girl (10)
Tale of the Long Ago Locket (8)
Tale of the Night Shift (10)
Tale of C7 (9)
Tale of Watcher’s Woods (8)
Tale of the Room for Rent (8)
Let me know who you think is the Midnight Society’s best storyteller!
If you’re a fan of ’90s Nickelodeon, you should also check out my Ranking of Every ‘Salute Your Shorts’ Episode!